My apologies, Mr. Speaker. As you can see, I am somewhat passionate on this issue because of the absolute disgust that I have for the way this thing has gone on for the last two weeks.
There have been some comments made here today with respect to the members on the Reform side suggesting that they are being respectful, that they are following due process, that they are simply trying to get these Canadian flags on their desks. They feel that it is a good use of time discussing this for two weeks, effectively shutting down government for two weeks when we should be discussing things like health, we should be discussing things likes education, we should be doing things like true parliamentarians and not simply grandstanding.
I am going to quote a couple of statements that were made by my Reform colleagues just to refresh their memories.
On February 15 the member for Edmonton North sent out a press release. I will quote it. “I just wish there was some substance to go along with this symbolism. Setting aside a day for waving the flag, jumping up and down, singing stirring songs, is a nice gesture. It is also a good way to keep warm in February.”
I do not find that very humorous. Canadians would rather see some substance from this government, a national unity plan, real job creation, a balanced budget and much needed tax relief. That is exactly what this government is trying to do. That is exactly what this opposition party is trying to stop. It is simple grandstanding and they should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. They have been carrying on like spoiled children. Imagine driving around the Parliament Buildings in a car with the Canadian flag painted on it, with the roof cut off, hooting and hollering and waving the flag. True parliamentary spirit? I think not.
I heard a statement made by the member for Fraser Valley that this is ridiculous and it should not be happening. This was on March 9, not that far in the past. He said we should be on to the business of the budget.
The hon. members can say what they want about newspaper articles, but what we are going to do is waste our time. It is absolutely shameful.
I know that my colleagues on this side and that side of the House are truly proud Canadians. I suggest that my Reform colleagues reflect on what they are doing to this nation. They suggest that they are a national party. I say shame on them. They are not a national party. They are driving a wedge.
We must understand the true reason why the Reform members are doing this. The true reason is not because there is some great sense of patriotism that has come over them in the last two weeks. The true reason is that it is nothing more than headline grabbing. It is an opportunity to drive a wedge in this country, ever widening the problems that we are facing right now. I am absolutely disgusted at what has actually been taking place.
I have sat here and listened to my hon. friend—I should say my Reform colleague. I will not use that term when dealing with them from now on. I have listened to my Reform colleague talk about how proud his members are of the Canadian flag and how this is such a just issue that we should be debating, costing the taxpayers hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As I sat there and listened, I almost believed him. Then, when he was talking about one of his Reform colleagues having greasy fingers from lunch and slipped and dropped the Canadian flag on the ground, that is not the way it happened and he should not try to twist it that way. The flag was thrown on the ground in disrespect.
I am a very proud Canadian. I look around this House and see all sorts of symbols that represent what Canada is to me. I see young people. I see a democratic process taking place. I see two very large Canadian flags. I look around at the lapels of most of the people in this room and see Canadian pins. I can demonstrate my sense of pride without having a flag on the corner of my desk. I too have had constituents call me and they are absolutely disgusted about the way the Reform Party has carried on for two weeks. It has compromised the integrity of this House of Commons which has a proud tradition.
If there is one saving grace, it is that Canadians truly understand now that there is absolutely no level that the Reform Party will not sink to in order to grab a headline or to grandstand. That is shameful. The only good thing about this is that Canadians now know what the consequences would have been had they ever made the Reform Party a government. Reform members should be completely ashamed of themselves.
We have some extremely important issues that we need to be discussing in this House. The government should be dealing with issues of tax relief and the direction of this country and not just today but for years to come. No party should ever tie up this House for several days for no other reason than grandstanding.
If the Reform Party truly had this sense of patriotism that it seems to be showing with its Canadian ties, shirts and flag cars, it would withdraw this motion. I do not think Reform members truly understand the harm that they are doing to this country.
Despite the fact that my NDP colleagues, Conservative colleagues and Bloc colleagues are all trying to come to some sort of an agreement on this issue, the Reform members simply do not want to play ball. They see an opportunity to get front page coverage. They see an opportunity to drive around in a funny little car with a Canadian flag on it, throw some flags and insult some people. Well, that is not what a parliamentarian is to me.
Back in my riding of Simcoe—Grey, shortly after being elected I decided to put in place a program where I have actually toured around and visited schools. I have handed out Canadian flags to students and Canadian pins to those who are travelling abroad.
There is lots of room in this country for Canadian flags. I am sure members will agree with me that this motion is truly unconscionable and is disrespectful to this House. It is disrespectful to Canadians and you have absolutely embarrassed yourselves.